Hello, my name's Jacob Garrick. I'm an native English speaker from England and I'm hoping to teach students of a variety of ages in Madrid.
When it comes to teaching the main approach I'd use is the cognitive approach. This is essentially the idea that there should be constant interaction between student and teacher. I strongly believe that the active participation of students is almost essential for them to develop a true understanding of the English language. This practical engagement not only helps the student to retain more of the lesson content but also, in most cases, makes the actual classes more enjoyable, thus acting as motivation for the students to better apply themselves.
Within this approach there are two main methods I would use, the communicative method and the direct. Although these two methods are in some ways very similar and to a degree can be used simultaneously to form a sort of hybrid, I would however tend to suggest the usage of the communicative method to more mature learners, say elder teenagers and adults and the direct for younger students.
The communicative method, as the name states encourages communication. Be this from teacher to student or peer to peer the ideology behind it is to allow the realistic and creative use of the language to be practised. Alternatively within the behaviourist approach, emphasis is placed on the memorisation of worss and certain set phrases that you may read in a text book. I.e. David has a small dog, or Sarah likes to go swimming. Although these phrases often will be used at some point, this 'reciting' method does little to allow the student to expand on what they'd like to say. The communicative method allows the use of English in real life situations so as to be of greater practical use to the student. Examples of activities within this method could be question and answer sessions or a student talking about their hobbies. This method sees the teacher take the role of a facilitator rather then an instructor allowing the students to semi independently improve their English in ways tailored to their needs. Be it for business, social or any other reason. In this sense the approach of constructivism encroaches into the mix.
The communicative method is also a very effective way of gauging the ability of individual students. From the student's verbal performance a teacher can then understand which areas are requiring improvement and which have been mastered allowing them to select class content accordingly. The second benefit of this greater individual understanding is the teacher having a better idea of the students personal interests, as they will naturally direct conversions to what interests them. This allows the teacher to then carefully suit the subject matter to appeal to the class, or to the individual student. For example if many students are interested in travel then you may look at vocabulary such as airport, holiday, hotels and then construct sentences around such a topic. Here the idea of Task Based Teaching (TBT) comes into play. TBT involves problem solving as opposed to memorization and recall, this allows students to experience using English to address genuine issues they may experience involving the usage of English. An activity based on TBT could be something as simple as getting students to order an ice cream. For example if the dialogue was to go as such:
Student: I would like an ice cream please.
Vendor: What flavour?
Student: Chocolate please.
Vendor: I'm sorry we've run out of chocolate.
A problem has arisen and it is only the students ability with the English language that can rectify it. This TBT technique forces students to use their linguistic abilities to solve problems in a realistic scenario. This process therefore teaches students how to use language effectively in situations they will inevitably face. This method can very effectively be adapted to suit other variants of English language, business English in particular, where meetings/conferences can be acted out, allowing an easier transistion into the use of the language in the workplace.
With all this said there is however one main critique of the communicative method, the lack of grammar. For students who are used to ESL examinations or those who have learnt simply via seminars this method may take some getting used to as there is little written grammatical focus. This however does not mean that grammar is completely left out in this method. By the spoken use of the language students are indirectly becoming consistently aware of grammatical forms. This with various grammatical devices woven into activities by the teacher sees the students gradually developing the correct usage of grammar in a similar way as to how a native speaker may understand the grammatical systems of their own language.
For younger learners I believe the direct method would be more appropriate. The concept of speaking in the target language from the very start has the benefit of introducing not just the idea of speaking, but that of thinking in English. The removal of the translation from idea to mother toungue to target language prohibits the fluidity that direct method tries to encpurage Dependent on the learning traits of the individual students various techniques can be used within the this method. For example a more visual learner could be engaged with the use of flash cards or by illustrated books whereas for a more auditory learner mnemonics or songs may be of use. Within the direct method it is important to find relevant connections to newly introduced vocabulary. For example if the student likes swimming, use the sea as an example for the word blue. This provides the student with a better chance of retaining the information via association.
To enhance this Total Physical Response (TPR) could also be used, while maintaining the use of the target language, to more elaborately express what the teacher is trying to convey. Active movement again acts as a memory aid as well as being a useful tool to engage learners and prevent the lessons becoming dull and uninteresting. TPR could be particularly effective with younger children, even those who have no existent ability with the language.
In a rapidly changing world it is important that teaching methods manage to keep up. Compared to just a few decades ago the general approach to teaching worldwide has changed dramatically. With this in mind it is almost impossible to imagine that teaching will not evolve considerably in the near future. With globalisation ever increasing the usage of English will no doubt become more and more useful (necessary even) in all aspects of life. This coupled with the rapid development of technology leaves the future of English teaching slightly unclear. Yet to teach in the most effective way it is essential for teachers to stay up to date with the latest technological developments so as to best assist the progress of their students
To conclude I strongly believe that the combination of these communicative and direct methods, enhanced by the option of Task Based Teaching (TBT) and Total Physical Response (TPR) creates an engaging and effective platform for students to creatively expand their understanding of the English language. To me this concept coincides well with the cognitive approach and, although to a slightly lesser degree, that of constructivism.